Nancy Banks-Smith is one of the funniest writers alive. Her dismemberment of the Jerry Springer show in today’s Guardian is a classic.
In Radio Times, Jerry Springer gives the English language short shrift. “Your talk shows plod along – it could be radio. The rule on my TV show is you have to be able to watch it with the sound off. If you still kinda know what’s going on, that’s compelling.” Eager to please, I watched The Springer Show (ITV1) with the sound off.
AM I THE DAD? DNA RESULTS! What appears to be a snake-oil salesman enters. The audience rises, revealing tattoos on their buttocks. The snake-oil salesman shakes hands with the front row. Daniel, a simple soul in earrings, is sitting on a bare stage. Not spending much on production, are they? Enter Jessica. She points her tremendous breasts accusingly at Daniel, picks up her chair in a marked manner and moves it some distance from him. Two enormous women lumber in from opposite ends. Judging by their strong resemblance to Daniel and Jessica, these are their respective mothers. Absolutely no DNA test is needed. The mothers fling themselves at each other like worlds colliding. Bouncers tear them apart. The snake-oil salesman fans himself with an oleaginous hand.
Captions shed some light on all this heat. JESSICA SAYS THE BABY LOOKS LIKE DANIEL. More precisely, she screamed at her mother-in-law, “She is the spitting image of you. Poor cow!” As Jessica’s mother-in-law looks like a Sherman tank, the audience loved this.
Like his namesake, Daniel is surrounded by roaring. Springer said he felt the noise go through his suit. Sometimes intelligible insults (“Silly cow!” “Slappers Reunited!”) float free from the fracas. Silence always indicates the excision of some obscenity.
The DNA results were opened on stage and Daniel, to universal recrimination, turned out to be the father of Jessica’s daughter. “One day your little girl may see a tape of this show. God forbid!” said the snake-oil salesman piously. By his standards it was all a bit tame. “If she were pregnant by another woman, that would be in my American show.”
Now let’s try watching it with the vision off.